Ayvaunn Penn is a graduate of the MFA Playwriting Program at Columbia University where she had the honor of being the School of the Arts Dean’s Fellowship recipient for the playwriting class of 2018. She is also a director, lyricist, and composer. She showcases all of these skills in her latest piece The Feather Doesn’t Fall Far From the Wing: A Play with Music which was featured at the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre. Most recently, she assistant directed the world premier of Chasing Alice by Tom Parr IV at KD Conservatory College of Film and Dramatic Arts and has served as assistant director to two-time Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson at the Billie Holiday Theatre and Golden Globe-winner Regina Taylor at the Tony Award-winning Goodman Theatre.
Before joining the Texas Christian University Theatre Department, Ayvaunn taught as a guest playwriting instructor at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and remains a theatre instructor with Junior Players. As the creator of Inner Spirit Inner Artist — Bible study through devised theatre practices — she also teaches community workshops through her theatre company Bible And Penn Productions. The Inner Spirit Inner Artist method was developed through her research conducted under Tony Award-winner David H. Hwang at Columbia University.
Lastly, with the mission of getting more of the African-American community passionate about theatre, Ayvaunn founded the media platform Black and Making It (BAM-iT!) to celebrate black excellence in the performing arts. Making it on the Broadway and Off-Broadway press circuit, BAM-iT! has featured interviews with theatre artists such as but not limited to: Tony Award-winning producer Ron Simons; two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage; Berry Gordy and the cast of Motown the Musical; and the cast of the Tony Award-winning revival of Jitney.
Present and Future
- Traditional and contemporary theatre practices as a method of studying scripture, enhancing retention of scripture, and enriching the worship experience.
Playwright & Director in Research at Broadway Dance Center
- How movement and different forms of dance communicate story and emotion
Dramatists Guild of America, Member